The Estonian government wants to tighten controls on those arriving in the country from abroad for work. One of the potential changes could involve requesting criminal background checks.
The government is discussing plans to introduce more stringent checks on non-EU nationals, who come to work in Estonia, citing the need to ensure security and reduce the risk of terrorism. Up to now, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) have only carried out random background checks on new arrivals.
"It is a natural part of the process. We have been doing this all the time, bit by bit, in line with developments in the world and in Estonia. We are basing this on the suggestions and observations of the police," said Estonian Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE).
"We are looking at potential terrorist threats and developments in Europe, including in Estonia, and we are trying to prevent them," he added.
One change that could be brought in for instance, would involve requiring all those arriving in Estonia for employment to provide criminal background checks and bank statements, as well as overviews of their use of cryptocurrency and checks of their social media accounts.
"From a security perspective, we definitely need to strengthen our control measures. But of course, we cannot do this as a form of mass control because we simply do not have the resources," said Minister of Justice Kalle Laanet (Reform).
"This will make our administrative burden sky high and so we will definitely not be able to do it as thoroughly as we would hope," he added.
"We are trying to do this in a way that does not require any additional resources. We have analyzed it and planned it in a way whereby if we really don't have to ask for these documents every time, then we will actually reduce that administrative burden," said Lauri Läänemets.
According to Minister of Economic Affairs Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200), while the government has discussed tightening up the procedures, a number of questions have also arisen. On the one hand, it is the Ministry of the Interior's role to ensure that people who do not share our common values or are planning to commit a crime do not enter Estonia. However, on the other hand, companies must not be left without sufficient amounts of employees.
"There is an optimal balance here and that is what we are seeking, so that the pendulum does not swing too far to one side," Riisalo said.
The Ministry of Interior has already finalized some of the proposed amendments, while other ministries are still at the drafting stage. There have for instance, been suggestions of plans to ban migrants from homeschooling their children, as well as wearing religious headwear in schools.
Interior minister Läänemets pointed out that there are currently no large migrant communities in Estonia, however, that could change by 2030 if controls are not tightened.
Editor: Michael Cole